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University of Memphis Launches Initiative to Improve Black Graduation Rates

The University of Memphis is launching a new initiative to increase graduation rates among African-American students, the school said in a release.

The newly designed African American Male Academy will identify, recruit and induct African American male students into a culture of inclusive excellence starting in the middle school itself.

The students will be given access to faculty mentors, textbooks and educational supplies which will prepare them for college and ultimately help to increase the graduation rates.

“The University of Memphis is uniquely positioned to provide African American male students with a continuity of support that includes evidence-based best practices to enhance student success,” said Dr. Karen Weddle-West, vice-president of Student Academic Success.

The Academy will provide various programs, such as Empowered Men of Color, Black Scholars Unlimited, Memphis Advantage Scholarships, Hooks African American Male Initiative, Emerging Leaders, Honors, Academic Coaching for Excellence, I AM A Man: I Teach, among others.

The latest initiative comes a year after the university President M. David Rudd’ testified before the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on “The Cost of Non-Completion.”

To ensure the success of the initiative, the university will set up two boards that will include its faculty, staff, and leaders from the community, state and across the nation.

Generally, studies have shown that black students face various barriers that are causing a decline in their enrollment in colleges and universities across the country. A recent study by University of Kansas researcher found black students mostly affected by low socioeconomic and first-generation college status.

The unaffordable process of applying to both college and financial aid is also leading to the underrepresentation of black students in higher education.

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